President of the International Trade Union Confederation
João Antonio Felicio was born on November 6,1950 in Itapuí, in the interior of the Brazilian state of São Paulo. He has a higher education in Design and Plastic Arts, Arts Education and Art History. He began working at the age of 15 as a butcher in Jaú, in the state of São Paulo. In 1973 he began teaching Design in São Paulo, within the state education system, where he continues to work today as a teacher of Art Education (Arts, Arts and Theatre History). Its political and trade union militancy began in 1977, when it participated in teacher mobilizations for the improvement of living conditions and wages, and against the military dictatorship. In 1978 and 1979, he was a member of the organizing committee during the teachers' strike after decades of isolation. In the late 1970s he was an active member of the MEP (Movement for the Emancipation of the Proletariat), a left-wing organization fighting for the end of the military dictatorship. In 1980 he participated in the founding of the Workers' Party and in 1981 he was one of the candidates selected for the APEOESP Board of Directors (Trade Union of Official Teachers of the State of São Paulo). In 1983, he participated in the process that led to the creation of the CUT, the Central Unica de Trabajadores. He was elected president of APEOESP in 1987, and re-elected in 1989 and 1991. That year saw the longest teachers' strike in history in the state of São Paulo. It lasted eighty-two days and resulted in a 126% increase in wages. The following year, as President of APEOESP, he took part in the massive mobilizations that caused the dismissal of former President Fernando Collor de Mello. In 1993 he left his post as President of APEOESP to return to education. During that year, the APEOESP reached 122,000 members, of which 70,000 took part in the electoral process, in the largest election in the organization's history. In 1994, he was nominated by the professors and elected to the National Executive Directorate of the CUT. In this position he was responsible for the Commission on Education, Vocational Training and Pensions and, as a member of the International Collective of the CUT, for issues related to the ILO (International Labour Organization) and Human Rights. In 1997, he was elected National General Secretary of the CUT and member of the National Directorate of the Workers' Party. Later in 2000, he was elected National President of the CUT and the following year he contributed to the creation of the World Social Forum. In 2002, he was National Mobilization Coordinator of the campaign that elected Lula da Silva as president. He also participated in the coordination of Lula's re-election campaign in 2006 and Dilma Roussef's election campaign in 2010. Since 2002, he has been part of the Board of Directors of the Cidadania Institute of President Lula. In 2003 he was elected National Secretary General of the CUT. Between 2003 and 2012 he was the National Trade Union Secretary of the Workers' Party. At the request of the then president, Lula, he was a member of the Brazilian government's Economic and Social Development Council. He was also appointed by the CUT as a representative on the Board of Directors of BNDES, Brazil's National Development Bank. In 2005, he again served as President of the National CUT. In 2006 he was elected Secretary of International Relations, being re-elected in 2009 and 2012. In 2007 he was nominated to represent the CUT in the General Council of the ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation) and in the Executive Bureau of the CSA (Confederation of Trade Unions of the Americas). He has also been Vice-President of the ITUC and in 2014 he was elected President of the ITUC.